Known for its history as being the first successful Jesuit mission in the Baja California peninsula, and for its present existence as a hotspot for marine wildlife, Loreto Mexico is an intriguing town that’s not to be missed. A fresh breath of historical atmosphere, the small town is still filled with preserved historical buildings and churches, cobblestone streets, open squares and palm trees, its attraction highlights include—but are definitely not in the slightest bit limited to—a malecon with some truly awesome views of an ocean that just happens to be one of the most biodiverse oceans in the world, a collection of UNESCO World Heritage protected islands and a golf course fit for the pros. If you are looking for an under-appreciated and authentic location with a long list of things to do, you can’t go wrong with heading off to Loreto in Baja California Sur!
1. ✧ Take the Tabor Canyon Trail Hike
This hike in the Loreto Mexico area is considered to be of moderate difficulty and is among the locals’ favorites. It is fairly short, but some bouldering over rocks is required, so remember to bring a good pair of hiking shoes! If that doesn’t entice you, you’ll be glad to know there’s a nice waterfall included on your hiking route to make it worthwhile–not to mention the route itself is quite sufficiently alluring with its scenery, so bring your camera!
You can navigate the Tabor Canyon trail on your own or sign up for a guided hike tour that will take you through the rugged terrain on an information 3-hour trek.
2. ✦ Play Golf at TPC Danzante Bay
This 18-hole course is located at the Villa del Palmar Resort & Spa, which is known to be one of the most terrific spots in all of Loreto to stay in or generally spend time in. The challenging course is well regarded for its amazing panoramic views of not only Danzante Bay, but many other of the natural hotspots in Loreto, notably the Sea of Cortez, the five Islands of Loreto, and the Sierra de la Giganta mountain range. It’s truly one of a kind place to play golf, allowing you to enjoy desert, mountain and ocean backdrops, all at once; even if golf isn’t typically your game of choice, you’ll want to play here. If for nothing else, then to just get a peek at the signature hole #17 thats green juts out into the Sea of Cortez, it is a stunner from every angle!
3. ✧ Go Whale Watching
Another spectacular not-to-miss thing to do while in the Loreto Mexico is to go whale watching! There are as many as eight different whale species that love to swim around Loreto, so you’re in for quite the treat! Your best bet to go whale watching in Loreto is between December and March, with Loreto Coastal Expeditions and Loreto Sea and Land Tours offering some of the best excursions available, taking you out to the whales’ favorite spots in the Sea of Cortez.
4. ✦ Ogle Mission Loreto (Misión De Nuestra Señora de Loreto Misión de Nuestra Señora de Loreto)
This is a beautiful church, located right in the center of Loreto, that’s worth visiting and snapping a photo of, at least from the outside. Inside, it is fairly small and simple in interior, although nevertheless quite charming. Especially if you are a history buff, or in general want to get a deeper insight of the town you are visiting, this church is not to be missed as its history dates back all the way to the 1600s.
5. ✧ Walk the White Sand Beaches of Isla Coronado
Isla Coronado is a small island right off the Baja California shoreline, known not only for its white sand beaches but the volcano at its northern end which, while has not held any activity since the 1500s, offers an impressive addition to the scenery of the island. Especially along the western side, you can find beautiful white sand beaches to walk along, and even dip into the crystal clear waters for a swim. Once you see just how beautiful and translucent the waters by the bay of Isla Coronado are, you’ll immediately understand why it’s the most beloved of Loreto’s islands.
6. ✧ Snorkel at Danzante Island
The only inhabitants of this part of Loreto Mexico are the reptiles and seabirds on land, as well as the tropical fish and other sea animals in the sea. This area is nationally protected by UNESCO, and an official part of Loreto Bay National Marine Park, so you can expect plenty of beautiful things to see when you snorkel in its waters. Beyond the colorful tropical fishes, you may get lucky enough to spot some bottlenose dolphins, manta rays and sea turtles, as well!
On a tour with Danzante Tours, for example, you get to enjoy the fun of snorkeling–on top of which you’ll be enjoy finding out about some of the secrets and features and history of the area as you are sailing towards the best spot for snorkeling.
7. ✧ Take a Kayak Camping Trip
In the Loreto Bay National Marine Park, it also is possible to go for a fun kayak camping trip during your stay. How this works is, you enter the National Marine Park as normal, then you will choose your campsite, and finally you will kayak your way there! It’s a rather unique and fun way to enjoy some camping and kayaking, especially as it will leave you plenty of time to choose between relaxing at the campsite or further explore the islands inside the park.
If you want an even more bucket list worthy experience, how about taking an 11-day kayaking trip from Loreto to La Paz? You can find more information at Sea Kayak Adventures.
8. ✦ Go Twilight LED Paddle Boarding
If you want to add some unique touch to your trip to this part of Baja California, then head on over to Villa del Palmar resort for some paddle boarding. Though paddle boarding itself may be a familiar concept to you, many of us have tried this fun activity by now, how many of you have already done it at night time?! During this particular activity, you’ll go out after dark and hop on a paddle board equipped with LED lights; not only is it a unique take on paddle boarding, but you’re going out when much of the marine life is at their most active, attracting them towards you with your board’s LED lights illuminating the water surface like the moon. Kayaks are also available for those who prefer.
9. ✦ Walk The Loreto Malecon
The Loreto malecon is a waterfront area where you can walk along the promenade, taking in the gorgeous ocean views around you. It’s a relaxing afternoon stroll to have, easy to complete with some local treats, people watching, or even shopping, in addition to which it is entirely possible to catch some dolphins, stingrays or whales in the water – so remember to keep your eyes open for the magical water wildlife whilst there! Also find yourself along the malecon at least once during sunset to catch that postcard-worthy photo, which you just might want to copy and print out to make actual postcards and photos out of.
10. ✦ Take an Outback Desert Tour on an ATV
To pump up some adrenaline into your adventure in the Baja California Sur, take the ATV tour offered by Danzante Tours. They’re excellent at covering the basics of how to drive an ATV if you’re a beginner, before setting off on a tour that explores through the Baja Desert, the beachfront and the town of Ligui, offering you incredible views of Loreto and the Sea of Cortez as you speed around. There will be plenty of stops taken along the way, so that you can properly take in all the beautiful nature that you’re seeing – and so that you can snap a hundred or so photos of them, too. FYI: this was one of my favorite things to do in Loreto!
11. ✧ Day Trip to San Javier Mission
Located on the Baja California region, San Javier Mission is a world famous Spanish missionary church, gorgeous inside and out, offering some great baroque architecture, painted art and a piece of local history for its visitors. It’s a fairly short distance from Loreto, and if you go by car, you’ll enjoy how scenic the route there and back is. Just remember to head on your day trip early enough to make it back before dark as the road might get tricky to navigate through at night.
12. ✦ Play Pickeball at Villa del Palmar
Pickleball is a sport that’s a cross between tennis, ping pong and badminton—if you can imagine that! The game uses a wiffle ball on a small-sized court and a wooden paddle. If you’ve never played before or just want a unique way to stay active while on vacation, make sure to play a game at Villa del Palmar resort. Even if you’re not into playing a game, visit the court just to get a glimpse at the picturesque views from the rooftop!
If you want to play, but don’t know the rules, watch this Youtube video before you take to the court.
13. ✧ Eat Traditional Mexican Food
You can’t go to Mexico without eating some Mexican food! Can you? Whether it’s enchiladas de mariscos at Mi Loreto or tostadas de pollo at Orlando’s, make a pit stop to one of the local restaurantes downtown. Don’t forget the margaritas and micheladas!
14. ✦ Visit the Museum of Jesuit Missions
Loreto was the first colonial settlement of Spain’s on the Baja California peninsula, taking place in late 1600s, with the Museum of Jesuit Missions having been built to document the history of the missions of this colony that took place in this region. There are archeological remains, sacred documents, paintings, weapons, and other historical items for your viewing pleasure. Right next door to the mission itself, the museum offers six showrooms that give a perspective of 300 years of the area’s culture and history.
15. ✦ Island Hop at Loreto Bay National Marine Park (island boat tours)
There are five large islands off the coast of Loreto (Isla Danzante, Isla Carmen, Isla Coronado, Isla Montserrat and Isla Catalina) that are included in the Bay of Loreto National Park, which is an UNESCO World Heritage site. Each of them offer incredible scenery and turquoise waters to enjoy—which means, that you don’t want to miss exploring this diverse protected area—an area that Jacques Cousteau has called “the world’s aquarium”! What better way to do that than by a cool zodiac-style boat?
The 4-hour Wild Loreto boat tour is a combination of island hopping, sightseeing and snorkeling (with an actual chance of seeing dolphins or whales!). It’s also a bird watcher’s haven, where you can see species like frigatebirds, double-crested cormorants and even blue-footed boobies.
16. ✦ Downtown Shopping
Just like in many other places of the world, the shopping opportunities in Loreto are centered on the downtown area. It is an excellent place to get some authentic souvenirs to bring home with you, including things like artwork, pottery and traditional Mexican items and treats. And, as you shop, you’ll additionally be treated to many wonderful pieces of Loreto’s history, in the form of museums, churches, and buildings, all preserved in their historical glory.
17. ✦ See the Murals Inside the City Hall
Painted by the talented artist Alejandro Curiel the murals inside of the town’s City Hall bring history to life in their own artistic form, connecting birds and plants to myths, history and traditions into gorgeous pieces of art. Find yourself at a big entrance stairway, which is towards the back of the building, to see its four walls covered in these murals. Each mural tells a part of Loreto’s history, each representing a different stage, offering you a quick and informative lesson on Loreto’s roots as you admire the art – a charming way to learn something more about the place you’re visiting, for sure.
18. ✦ Pose in front of the Loreto Sign
The Loreto sign is a quirky, fun and colorful sign located near Loreto’s marina area, at the end of the malecon. Posing in front of it for a photograph is a touristy thing to do in Loreto, but makes for a fun memorability to hang on your wall; and while it may be a touristic feat, it’s just the right amount of cheesiness your trip needs to be perfect. If you wish for a slightly classier shot, try to find yourself in front of the sign during sunset – you’ll truly get a gorgeous photograph with a beautiful backdrop then.
19. ✦ See the First Car in Loreto
There’s barely any information about this quick roadside stop, but there is a plaque in the front that says:
“June 26, 1997 of Jesus Christ This jeep belonged to Mr. Cura Dn. Modesto Sanchez Mayon, I arrived in Loreto on Nov 29. from 1947. This vehicle was a useful instrument in the reconstruction of the Mission of Loreto B.C.S. Being finished the year 1955. It was the first car that I entered through this on the way to the Mission of San Javier, on Nov. 26. from 1952. As a tribute from the People of Loreto to the 10 years after his death on 06-26-1987. Loreto B.C.S. 300 years of evangelization and culture. “
20. ✦ Stay at a Pretty Resort
This Villa Del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto is a nestled between the deep-blue waters of the Sea of Cortez and the scenic Sierra de la Giganta mountain range, on the outskirts of downtown Loreto. Being encompassed by sea and desert landscapes makes it a top place for secluded relaxation—and it is. The 4,447 acre grounds boasts many amenities and activities from a fully-quipped fitness center to five swimming pools to miles of hiking trails. The town of Loreto has something for everyone, but so does this resort, plus it makes for the perfect home base for all of your Loreto adventures.
From its alluring history that still holds a strong presence today, to its exhilarating activities in the center of marine nature, Loreto Mexico is a positively surprising spot for a vacation that not many travelers have found themselves at yet. Combine your days with fun and wildlife in the ocean with exploring Loreto’s several historical spots, and complete your magnificent but relaxing adventure by shopping local artwork and pottery to take home with you to never forget about your experiences with Loreto. Continue your journey from Loreto to other parts of Baja California, such as La Paz and Todos Santos, or check into Villa del Palmar for a few more days of complete relaxation and luxury under Loreto’s sun and gorgeous nature backdrops.
Essential Tips for Visiting Loreto, Mexico
Getting There: Loreto is located in Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, and the downtown is about 15 minutes from the Loreto International Airport. There are direct flights, straight to the Loreto International Airport, from some major cities, including: Los Angeles, Phoenix, Dallas, and Calgary. You can also opt to drive from Cabo San Lucas, which takes about 5 hours. You can easily check for the best fare deals at Skyscanner, which also has the option to choose ‘cheapest month’ as the departure to find the lowest priced dates to fly to your destination.
Where to Stay: If you are looking for a resort that has it all with plenty of fun things to do onsite, then Villa del Palmar is a great choice (book here), and only about 35 minutes from the airport. It you want to stay right in the downtown area, then try Posada del Cortes that’s situated close to the seafront and the main square, or book a room at Hotel 1697 where each room features a terrace overviewing Loreto’s main plaza. Or search some great deals on hotels of your choice at Booking.com. If you’re looking for more of a home atmosphere (or are traveling with a group of people), head over to Airbnb that has houses, apartments and even just a room for rent in every price range.
Getting Around: Renting a car in Loreto is the best to really experience the city and RentalCars.com has some great deals. If you are not renting a car, there are a couple plenty of options depending on where you are heading. Most hotels will offer a shuttle service or recommend a reliable company. You can also get a taxis are available all over the city.
Insurance: It’s always a good idea to travel fully insured so you are protected in case of trip cancellations or medical emergencies. You can check out pricing at Travelex Insurance.
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